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The US health secretary offered an upbeat assessment yesterday of
African efforts to fight the Aids virus, as he wrapped up a
four-nation tour of the continent, but cautioned that a great deal
still remains to be done.
“Many of the programmes are very effective, but there's much
more to do,” Tommy Thompson, who visited Zambia, Rwanda,
Kenya and Uganda over the past week at the head of a roughly
100-member delegation, told reporters during a brief stop on his
journey back to the US.
In Zambia, where the delegation of US health officials, lawmakers
and business marked World Aids Day, Thompson signed a $6,39-million
grant on behalf of the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and
Malaria to help the country fight the pandemic. He also pledged
$2,5-million in assistance from the US Centres for Disease Control
and Prevention for HIV prevention and monitoring.
In Kenya, Thompson was present as nine major international
companies, with operations in Africa, launched a project to expand
HIV treatment and prevention programmes.
In Uganda, the group travelled to the village of Tororo to see a
programme that helps bring medicine to people in remote
US President George W Bush recently pledged $15-billion in funding
over five years to fight HIV/Aids and appointed Randall L Tobias as
US global Aids coordinator to oversee the funds.
Thompson said about $2,5-billion of the money will be made
available this year.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than 26-million of the
40-million people worldwide living with HIV. Only about 1% have
access to life-prolonging drugs, widely available in wealthier
“Africans are ready, willing and able to fight Aids –
they just need more help from developed nations,” said Julie
Gerberding, director of the Centres for Disease Control and
Prevention, who travelled with Thompson.
Gerberding said she had been impressed with many people's level of
knowledge on HIV/Aids, but noted some shortcomings in treatment of
In one case, she said, a Kenyan hospital was able to identify
expectant mothers with the Aids virus and prescribe medicine that
would help prevent it being transmitted to the baby – but had
no system in place to ensure that mothers actually took the
Other members of Thompson's delegation included Senator Don
Nickles, an Oklahoma Republican who chairs the Senate Budget
Committee, and Richard Holbrooke, a former US ambassador to the
United Nations and now president of the Global Business Coalition
for HIV/Aids. – Sapa-AP.